Nexon is continuing to seek out developers in the West, and it’s latest partnership is with Finnish indie studio Grand Cru. The two are teaming up on the mobile title Battlejack, a fantasy role-playing game with battle mechanics based on the card game Blackjack. There’s no release date yet, but it’s slated to launch on iOS and Android this summer.
Battlejack features turn-based combat, and players can assemble their own party of heroes. When the heroes attack or use their special abilities, a hand of cards is dealt to determine the amount of damage to enemies. As in classic Blackjack, the best you can hope for is to hit a natural 21, which can lead to combos and boosts. Heroes can level and evolve as well, unlocking different elemental-based abilities. In addition to over 100 levels, Battlejack will also feature a player-vs-player mode.
Spring-boarding off a strong foundation in the PC gaming market, Nexon has been making moves on mobile. The South Korean company has released a mobile version of its hit PC title MapleStory, and it’s working on porting the hack-‘n’-slash classic Dynasty Warriors.
“Nexon’s top market remains its local one; South Korea. It is also quite successful in Japan,” said Jelle Kooistra, the head of mobile at industry analyst Newzoo, in an email. “Typically, the games that are popular in these close markets consist of genres that aren’t particularly popular in the West, such as RPGs, turn-based strategy games, shooters and fighting games.”
The exception, Kooistra says, is DomiNations, a base-building game that launched in 2015 and monetizes well in the West. Last year, Nexon acquired Big Huge Games, the Maryland-based mobile studio that developed the title. So far, it’s generated $100 million in lifetime revenues and boasts over 32 million players.
Grand Cru’s last mobile game, Supernauts, hit 1 million downloads in less than a week. Unlike Battlejack, which has a fantasy and steampunk aesthetic, Supernauts was a cartoony world-builder in outer space. Supernauts also featured a player-vs-player mode, though, so Grand Cru has experience with implementing that kind of feature.
Kooistra says that the combination of the card game mechanic, which is familiar to Western audiences, along with RPG mechanics, which are big in Asia, could lead to Battlejack becoming a hit.
“As [a mix of genres], it has the potential to attract a large group of players that enjoy simple mechanics mixed with deep gameplay and progression,” Kooistra said. “However, how well the game will perform depends on how well Nexon and Grand Cru can play the balance between monetization and keeping players satisfied and coming back.”